Bentonville businessman Roger Thomas, a founder of the company known today as TeleComp Holdings Inc., has filed a lawsuit against the business, two months after the company ended his employment agreement.
Thomas filed the lawsuit on April 22 in Benton County Circuit Court in Bentonville. In the filing, Thomas accuses the Rogers tech firm of breach of contract.
Thomas and business partner Gino Capito started the company — TeleComp Computer Services — in 2003, when they partnered to purchase Dixieland Computers from Bill and Pete Norwood of Bentonville and merged three telecommunications and computer companies.
In early 2017, Thomas sold his majority interest in the business as the result of a merger between TeleComp and IPC Communications of Rogers. Concurrent with the merger, IPC’s Chris Beaty assumed the chief operating officer role of the new company, TeleComp Holdings. He eventually became CEO.
TeleComp, with offices in Little Rock and Tulsa, offers hosted cloud phone systems and contact centers using its cloud platform, TeleCloud. It is a Tier 3 phone and internet carrier and has its own fiber network and wholesale agreement with AT&T. The business has roughly 100 employees.
After the merger, Thomas entered into a three-year employment agreement on Feb. 17, 2017, as a chief business officer for TeleComp, according to the filing.
Under the contract, Thomas and TeleComp each had options to end the agreement. Thomas was to continue in the job, according to the filing, unless the company gave him a written notice of non-renewal at least 30 days before Feb. 17, 2020.
On Feb. 25, 2020, TeleComp issued a two-page notice to Thomas ending the employment agreement, effective 30 days from the date of the letter. The company said it would pay Thomas a prorated salary for 30 days after the notification.
Thomas argues that since he was terminated without cause — and wasn’t notified at least 30 days before the end of the three-year employment agreement — he is entitled to his annual salary of $200,000 through March 26, 2021.
TeleComp claims, according to the filing, that Thomas “downloaded and deleted certain files from company records,” which mitigates its obligation to pay Thomas a full year’s salary.
Through his attorneys, Thomas denies that claim as a “red herring,” saying in the court filing, “any information deleted from his computer was either personal or contained confidential information that was maintained by other TeleComp employees and should not have been viewed by employees outside of executive management.”
TeleComp hasn’t paid Thomas since March 26 and will stop paying for health insurance coverage for Thomas and his family on April 30.
Thomas and his wife still maintain a 28% ownership stake in the business under a separate limited liability company.
In an internal memo sent March 13, TeleComp CEO Chris Beaty informed employees of Thomas’ departure.
“TeleComp has experienced many changes over the past few years,” Beaty wrote. “During a week that has been filled with excitement, the announcement being made comes with very mixed emotions. One of the original founders of TeleComp and current Chief Business Officer, Roger Thomas, will be announcing his decision to step away from his daily work within TeleComp.
“Roger has been a role model to this company. His energy, positivity and fun personality have been so important to this company. We wish Roger all the best with his future business plans, and we look forward to his involvement as an investor in TeleComp.”
Beaty and Thomas each declined to comment on the litigation Monday morning (April 27).
Fayetteville attorney Suzanne Cark and Rogers attorney Rebecca Hurst represent Thomas. Springdale attorney Jeb Joyce represents TeleComp.